Foreword III Over the last decade, interdisciplinary efforts directed on past societies and their environments are broadening our view on socio-environmental dynamics and have opened exciting new perspectives on old archives. Among the key areas that demonstrated these dynamics in the past and therefore attracted intensive investi- gations in the recent are the northeast Mediterranean, Middle East, Central Asia and the Eurasia Steppe, which are linked by the modern concept Silk Road. The Silk Road is one of the oldest routes of international trade in the world. It is ﬁrst reported to have been used during the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD) in China, but recent archaeological evidence indicates that trade managed by the ancient steppe societies across the central Asian deserts began as early as 5000– 6000 years ago. In several millennia, territory along the Silk Road has been both, a home to ancient civilizations and a hot spot of environmental hazards. Therefore, it is a key region through which we may disentangle the interwoven forces of long-term interaction between humans and the environment. Managing risks, maintaining livelihoods and promoting development were unavoidable tasks for local communities in the long past. Until now, however, there have been few attempts to bring different archives together to form an integrated long-term nar- rative of the interactions between humans and the environment in the region. In early 2017, Dr. Yang proposed the International Workshop “The Rise and Fall: Environmental Factors in the Socio-Cultural Changes of the Ancient Silk Road Area” and raised this speciﬁc and signiﬁcant research question. The workshop brought together experts from 12 countries with 19 presentations and enabled to produce this book as a proceeding volume. The book “Socio-Environmental Dynamics along the Historical Silk Road” is a manifestation of the research progress in the ﬁeld and an achievement made by the four editors, more over 30 (co-)authors and over 50 reviewers. Both the workshop and the book were sponsored by the Graduate School Human Development in Landscapes at Kiel University (GSC 208/2) and the Past Global Changes project (PAGES) and are considered among the most fruitful ini- tiatives by young researchers at the school and through the project. xi xii Foreword III The GSHDL and Johanna Mestorf Academy (JMA) strive to promote interna- tional partnerships as a means of advancing education and research in the ﬁeld of past socio-environment. The global theme of human development in their cultural and natural environment is linked to the detection of cross-linkages between different factors: the influence of man on nature and vice versa. With this integrative back- ground, the GSHDL/JMA offers a favourable opportunity to understand the highly dynamic spatial–temporal processes that join interdisciplinary expertise in palaeo- climatic, palaeoecological, palaeodemographic, as well as cultural research. Though the processes involved may be of global character and may apply to the entire human history, case studies concentrate on the Holocene and mainly in Europe and adjacent regions. I think, this unique feature of the school contributes an important part to the success of the workshop and book about the Silk Road. In many cases, research questions arise in highly specialized ﬁelds, and progress is accompanied by increasing specialization and divergence of research ﬁelds. However, to gain an integrated understanding of the multifaceted phenomenon of human development in an ever-changing environment, a multidisciplinary approach uniting the full width of philosophical, social and natural sciences is needed. The book using Silk Road as the geographical scope and inspirational concept and striving to provide such a frame to address the human-environment interactions has well handled this challenge and is absolutely successful. Our new Cluster of Excellence ROOTS aims to explore archaeological and historical places in a diachronic perspective, covering a wide range of socio-environmental constellations, under the basic assumption that humans and environments deeply shaped each other, creating social, environmental and cultural connectivities. As planned, the ROOTS programme will introduce new and long-term research perspectives, expanding the existing broad interdisciplinary expertise and extending strengths to the central and eastern areas of the Eurasia continent. This book is certainly a pioneer effort in this large and foreseen vision. I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to the editors, authors, reviewers, workshop conveners and assistants, the GSHDL, PAGES and all those who have collaborated to support the workshop and the publication of this book. I trust that this book will provide a useful knowledge base and tool for future students and researchers to comprehend the mounting challenges in human development and to explore innovative approaches to promote human–environ- mental harmonious and sustainability. Kiel, Germany Johannes Müller July 2018 Director, Professor Graduate School “Human Development in Landscapes”, Institute of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology Kiel University Acknowledgements On behalf of the other editors, I wish to express our appreciation to the organiza- tions and individuals who contributed perspectives, ideas, contents and offered support throughout the course of this book’s development. This book emerged as a result of the International Workshop “The Rise and Fall: Environmental Factors in the Socio-Cultural Changes of the Ancient Silk Road Area”, which was held at the Kiel University during 27–28 September 2017. Both the workshop and the book received joint ﬁnancial resources from the Graduate School “Human Development in Landscape” (GSHDL) at Kiel University (GSC 208/2) and the Past Global Changes project (PAGES). We thank the workshop Organizing Committee, particularly Prof. Josef Wiesehöfer, Ms. Milinda Hoo, Mr. Faraz Nikpour Arani for all the help during the conference, and Dr. Silvia Balatti for early preparation of the workshop. Nineteen experts from twelve countries participated to discuss the importance of the past climate–environment–society relationships at this workshop. We are also very grateful to Prof. Johannes Müller for his welcoming words at the beginning of the workshop. Full support by PD Dr. Mara Weinelt throughout the long process from proposing the workshop to publishing the book is very much appreciated. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the chapter authors for their important insights, hard work, prompt return of manuscript drafts and revisions, and continued eagerness to make sure our ideas reach a broader audience. Our appre- ciation is also extended to the 51 reviewers (a list is included in the book) who took time to read the chapters and made valuable and constructive comments to improve the manuscripts, which guaranteed the high academic quality of the volume. Mr. Michael Spate, Mr. Stephen Pow and Dr. Rosalind Gillis provided their kind and free support to the book by proofreading some of the manuscripts and individual chapters at critical times. Open Access publication of this book has been made possible through ﬁnancial supports from GSHDL and Dr. Bertil Mächtle’s group in Heidelberg, besides the book editors. Especially, contributions of forewords from Prof. Hermann Parzinger, Prof. Fahu Chen and Prof. Johannes Müller are noted with great gratitude. Together with various interested and cooperating experts, they xiii xiv Acknowledgements contributed to the book’s success and helped to gain a high level of attention. Our gratitude also goes out to the Springer editing and producing team, especially Dr. Johanna Schwartz, Ms. Claudia Mannsperger, Ms. Dörthe Mennecke-Bühler, Ms. Sujitha Shree Duraisamy, and Mr. Boopalan Renu for making this publication such an enjoyable process. Personally, it has been my honour and pleasure to take the leadership in con- vening the workshop and editing the book. Working on these for one year and a half has been a very creative, inspiring and rewarding process. Writing and pub- lishing this book took a lot of effort and could not have been done without the co-editors of the book, Prof. Hans-Rudolf Bork, Prof. Xiuqi Fang and Prof. Steffen Mischke. Personal thanks go to them for their valuable input and great contributions in terms of science, organization, review, editing and time. I would further like to express my gratitude and appreciation to the GSHDL that hosts and supports my research initiative on the long-term socio-environmental interactions in China, Central Asia and South Asia, which is the very origin of both the workshop and the book. Kiel, Germany Dr. Liang Emlyn Yang July 2018 Graduate School “Human Development in Landscapes”, Institute of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology, Kiel University Contents Part I Introduction 1 On the Paleo-climatic/Environmental Impacts and Socio-Cultural System Resilience along the Historical Silk Road . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Liang Emlyn Yang, Hans-Rudolf Bork, Xiuqi Fang, Steffen Mischke, Mara Weinelt and Josef Wiesehöfer Part II Landscape Evolutions in the Human-Environment System 2 Evolution of Saline Lakes in the Guanzhong Basin During the Past 2000 Years: Inferred from Historical Records . . . . . . . . 25 Jie Fei, Hongming He, Liang Emlyn Yang, Xiaoqiang Li, Shuai Yang and Jie Zhou 3 Landscape Response to Climate and Human Impact in Western China During the Han Dynasty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Steffen Mischke, Chengjun Zhang, Chenglin Liu, Jiafu Zhang, Zhongping Lai and Hao Long 4 The Ili River Delta: Holocene Hydrogeological Evolution and Human Colonization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Jean-Marc Deom, Renato Sala and Anne Laudisoit 5 Quantitative Evaluation of the Impact on Aral Sea Levels by Anthropogenic Water Withdrawal and Syr Darya Course Diversion During the Medieval Period (1.0–0.8 ka BP) . . . . . . . . . 95 Renato Sala 6 Reconsidering Archaeological and Environmental Proxies for Long Term Human-Environment Interactions in the Valley of Kashmir . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123 Michael Spate xv xvi Contents Part III Natural Disasters and Impacts in the Past Societies 7 Living with Earthquakes along the Silk Road . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153 Miklós Kázmér 8 Natural Disasters in the History of the Eastern Turk Empire . . . . 177 Rustam Talgatovich Ganiev and Vladimir Vladimirovich Kukarskih 9 Dry and Humid Periods Reconstructed from Tree Rings in the Former Territory of Sogdiana (Central Asia) and Their Socio-economic Consequences over the Last Millennium . . . . . . . 195 Magdalena Opała-Owczarek and Piotr Owczarek 10 A Drought Reconstruction from the Low-Elevation Juniper Forest of Northwestern Kyrgyzstan since CE 1565 . . . . . . . . . . . . 215 Feng Chen, Shulong Yu, Qing He, Bakytbek Ermenbaev and Rysbek Satylkanov Part IV Climatic Factors in the Transitions of Social Systems 11 Social Impacts of Climate Change in Historical China . . . . . . . . . 231 Xiuqi Fang, Yun Su, Zhudeng Wei and Jun Yin 12 Climate Change and the Rise of the Central Asian Silk Roads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 247 Daniel J. Hill 13 The Coming of the Barbarians: Can Climate Explain the Saljūqs’ Advance? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 261 Yehoshua Frenkel 14 Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of the Oxus Civilization in Southern Central Asia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 275 Élise Luneau 15 Climatic and Environmental Limiting Factors in the Mongol Empire’s Westward Expansion: Exploring Causes for the Mongol Withdrawal from Hungary in 1242 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 301 Stephen Pow Part V Social Adaptation and Resilience to Environmental Stresses 16 Resilience of the Human-Water System at the Southern Silk Road: A Case Study of the Northern Catchment of Erhai Lake, China (1382–1912) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 325 Anning Xu, Liang Emlyn Yang, Weibing Yang and Aubrey L. Hillman Contents xvii 17 The Age and Origin of Karez Systems of Silk Road Oases around Turpan, Xinjiang, P.R. of China . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 359 Bertil Mächtle, Stefan Hecht, Nicola Manke, Bernd Kromer, Susanne Lindauer, Cheng-Sen Li, Ying Li, Xiaofei Wang and Olaf Bubenzer 18 Water Supply and Ancient Society in the Lake Balkhash Basin: Runoff Variability along the Historical Silk Road . . . . . . . . . . . . . 379 Irina P. Panyushkina, Mark G. Macklin, Willem H. J. Toonen and David M. Meko 19 Demographic Changes, Trade Routes, and the Formation of Anthropogenic Landscapes in the Middle Volga Region in the Past 2500 Years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 411 Leonid A. Vyazov, Ekaterina G. Ershova, Elena V. Ponomarenko, Konrad Gajewski, Mikhail S. Blinnikov and Ayrat G. Sitdikov Part VI Social-Culture in Connection with the Environment 20 Routes Beyond Gandhara: Buddhist Rock Carvings in the Context of the Early Silk Roads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 455 Marike van Aerde 21 Steppe and Sown: Eurasianism, Soil and the Mapping of Bukhara in the Light of Soviet Ethnographic Accounts . . . . . . 481 Susanne Marten-Finnis 22 A Karez System’s Dilemma: A Cultural Heritage on a Shelf or Still a Viable Technique for Water Resiliency in Arid Regions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 507 Shalamu Abudu, Zhuping Sheng, James Phillip King and So-Ra Ahn Major Contributing Authors Abudu, Shalamu Chief Modeller at the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission. He received his Ph.D. from New Mexico State University, USA. He has more than 20 years of research and industrial experience in the areas of irri- gation, hydrology, water resources engineering and Karez water supply systems in Central Asia. Bork, Hans-Rudolf Professor at the Institute for Ecosystem Research, Kiel University, Kiel. He conducts integrative ecosystem and landscape research using geoarchaeological, pedological, hydrological and geomorphological methods. He was the former president of the German Society for Geography and a member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Bubenzer, Olaf Full Professor of Geomorphology, Soil Geography and Quaternary Research, Institute of Geography, Heidelberg University, Germany. Starting with research on European fluvial systems, he changed to dry lands (Africa, Central Asia, Eastern Mediterranean, Chile), with special focus on aeolian processes and human–nature interactions on various temporal and spatial scales. Chen, Feng Professor at the Institute of Desert Meteorology, China Meteorology Administration, China. As a geographer, Feng Chen studies tree rings and climate change. He is currently investigating long-term climate change and water resources, in especially Western China and Central Asia. Deom, Jean-Marc Researcher at the Laboratory of Geoarchaeology, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Kazakhstan, specialized in the collection of historical and ethnographical material, in the elaboration of database and cartography and currently involved in projects on ancient water use and cultural landscapes in arid zones. Fang, Xiuqi Professor of Physical Geography at the Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, China. His researches mainly focus on reconstruction of historical climate change and its social impacts, land use/cover changes. xix xx Major Contributing Authors Fei, Jie Associate Professor at the Institute of Chinese Historical Geography, Fudan University, China. His research interests include historical environmental change and the scientiﬁc history of geography. Frenkel, Yehoshua Emeritus Professor at the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, University of Haifa, Israel. He investigates the Islamicate history in the late Islamic middle period, and recently published on environmental history, political elite and slave-soldiers of the Mamlūk Sultanate, and Islam Religion theory and practice. Ganiev, Rustam Talgatovich Associate Professor, Director of Central Asia Research Center at the Ural Federal University (Ekaterinburg, Russia). Rustam is currently researching the nomads of Central Asia, the Turkic–Chinese relations along the Silk Road, climatic adaptation and palaeoclimate of Central Asia. Daniel J. Hill Lecturer in the School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, UK. As a palaeoclimate modeller, Daniel is interested in climate changes and its impacts on the whole Earth system over many timescales, from the Mesozoic biosphere to human–environment interactions over the last few thousand years. Kazmer, Miklós Professor of palaeontology at Eötvös University, Budapest, Hungary. Trained as geologist, his interests range from carbonate microfossils to palaeoecology, basin evolution, palaeogeography and environmental history. He is currently investigating historical, archaeological and geological evidence of past earthquakes along the southern margin of the Eurasian continent. Luneau, Elise Researcher at the Eurasia Department of the German Archaeological Institute, Germany. She is archaeologist, currently investigating the evolution of urban societies, the mobility of populations and the interactions between “nomadic” and “sedentary” peoples in southern Central Asia during the Bronze Age. Mächtle, Bertil Senior Researcher at the Institute of Geography—Geomorphology, Soil Geography and Geoarchaeology Unit, Heidelberg University, Germany. As geomorphologist, he is currently working in the dry lands of Chile and Central Asia, with special focus on interhemispheric palaeoclimatic mechanisms and its regional impacts on environment and ancient cultures. Marten-Finnis, Susanne Professor of applied linguistics at the University of Portsmouth, UK, and a joint appointment at the Universities of Bremen, Germany. She studied Russian language and literature, and applied linguistics. Her research interests include Russian cultural production in western Europe, Eurasianism and urban heterotopias along the ancient Silk Road. Mischke, Steffen Professor at Faculty of Earth Sciences of the University of Iceland, works on environmental change and Quaternary climate reconstructions mainly based on lake sediments. He investigates ancient man–environment inter- actions together with archaeologists in the Near East and Central and East Asia. Major Contributing Authors xxi Opala-Owczarek, Magdalena Assistant Professor at the Department of Climatology, Faculty of Earth Sciences, University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland. She was trained as a geographer on climatology and palaeogeography. She is currently working on long-term climate change in Central Asia (Pamir region) and the Arctic, using tree-ring proxies. Owczarek, Piotr Assistant Professor at the Department of Physical Geography, University of Wroclaw, Poland. Trained as a geographer on palaeogeography and geomorphology, Piotr is currently working on dendrogeomorphological application in the High Arctic, mass movement activity and their quantiﬁcation and environ- mental changes in mountainous areas in Europe and Asia. Panyuskina, Irina Research Associate Professor at the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, USA. She investigates the role of environment in the economic and sociocultural changes of Central Asia antiquity. Current research focuses on modelling run-off variability from tree rings and scaling climatic proxies with archaeological data. Ponomarenko, Elena Leading Researcher at the Kazan Federal University, Russia, and Adjunct Professor at the University of Ottawa, Canada. Elena is a soil scientist specializing in the reconstruction of ecosystem dynamics and land use (Ecosystem Archaeology). Pow, Stephen Doctoral Candidate at the Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary. He is currently researching the causes of the Mongol withdrawal from Europe and Mongol–European relations in the thirteenth century. Recent projects including primary source translations and exploring the role of climate in the events. Sala, Renato Senior Researcher, Co-director of the Laboratory of Geoarchaeology, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Kazakhstan. He is specialized in systems theory and in the systematization of palaeoenvironmental, geoarchaeological and socio-economical data. He is currently leading projects on palaeoclimatology, ancient water use and cultural landscapes in arid zones. Spate, Michael Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Archaeology, University of Sydney, Australia. His research aims to reconstruct through environmental records the development of agro-pastoralism during the prehistorical and early historical periods in the Valley of Kashmir. Van Aerde, Marike is Byvanck Postdoctoral Fellow at the Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University, the Netherlands. She studies interregional culture connections and cultural heritage preservation from a bottom-up, archaeological perspective. She currently investigates the integral role of early Buddhist material culture along the Silk Road networks in Central Asia. xxii Major Contributing Authors Vyazov, Leonid Leading Researcher and archaeologist at the Kazan Federal University, Russia. He is currently working on landscape archaeology, population dynamics and economic development of the Eastern European forest-steppe region during the Migration Period and is leading the International Archaeological School annually held in Bolgar (Tatarstan, Russia). Xu, Anning Ph.D. Candidate at the Center for Historical Geographical Studies, Fudan University, China. She is a historical geographer focusing on natural geography and religious geography. Her Ph.D. work investigates the evolvement of water environment and human–water relationship in the basin of Erhai Lake, Yunnan Province of China. Yang, Liang Emlyn Postdoctoral Researcher at the Graduate School “Human Development in Landscapes”, Kiel University, Germany. Trained as a geographer on urbanization, climate adaptation and hazard risk reduction, Emlyn is currently investigating long-term climate forcing and social resilience, in especially China, Central/South Asia along the historical Silk Road. Yang, Weibing Professor at the Center for Historical Geographical Studies, Fudan University, China. As a historical geographer, he is investigating the Chinese his- torical geography, historical environment and society, and the regional history in Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368–1911). Reviewers Bemmann, Jan Professor at the Institute of Prehistory and Early Archeology, Bonn University, Germany. Bork, Hans-Rudolf Professor at the Institute for Ecosystem Research, Kiel University, Kiel. Boroffka, Nikolaus Senior researcher at the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Eurasia Department, Berlin, Germany. Bräuning, Achim Professor for Physical Geography at the Institute of Geography, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany. Büntgen, Ulf Professor of Environmental Systems Analysis, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, UK. He studies the causes and consequences of long-term changes in environmental systems. Chang, Claudia Professor of Anthropology Emerita, Sweet Briar College; research associate, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University, USA. Cordova, Carlos E. Professor at the Department of Geography, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA. He researches on Quaternary palaeoecol- ogy, pollen and phytoliths. Djamali, Morteza Research Scientist (CR1) at French National Center for Scientiﬁc Research (CNRS) and is working at the Mediterranean Institute for Biodiversity and Ecology (IMBE), in Aix-en-Provence, France. Dong, Guanghui Professor at the School of Resources and Environment, Lanzhou University, China. He researches environmental archaeology and historical geog- raphy in West China. Drake, Brandon Lee Vice-President of the Palaeoresearch Institute at Golden, Colorado, USA. He works on reconstructing palaeoclimate from isotopic records to understand human responses to climate change. xxiii xxiv Reviewers Duan, Zhidan Diana Assistant Professor at the Department of History, Brigham Young University, USA. She is a historian focusing on the border areas of South-west China and Southeast Asia. Eckmeier, Eileen Professor in Soil Geography, Department of Geography, Ludwig-Maximilians University München, Germany. Fang, Xiuqi Professor in Physical Geography at the Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, China. Fei, Jie Associate Professor at the Institute of Chinese Historical Geography, Fudan University, China. Filigenzi, Anna Lecturer at the University of Naples “L’Orientale”, director of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Afghanistan, member of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Pakistan. Florin, Moritz Researcher at the Department of Modern and Contemporary History at the Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany. His research focuses on the history of eastern Europe. Frenzel, Peter Group Leader for Palaeoenvironments and Micropalaeontology at the Institute of Geosciences, Friedrich Schiller University at Jena, Germany. Hautala, Roman Docent at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Oulu, Finland; senior research fellow of the Sh.Marjani Institute of History of Tatarstan Academy of Sciences, Kazan Russian Federation. Izdebski, Adam Independent Max Planck Research Group Leader, MPI Science of Human History, Jena, Germany. Kreutzmann, Hermann Chair of Human Geography and Director of the Center for Development Studies, Department of Earth Sciences, Freie Universitaet Berlin, Germany. Krivonogov, Sergey Leading Research Scientists at the Institute of Geology and Mineralogy Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, and at the Novosibirsk State University, Russia. Lamberg-Karlovsky, Clifford Charles Stephen Phillips Professor of Archaeology and Ethnology, Emeritus at Harvard Department of Anthropology, USA. He researches the urban process and exchange networks in West and Central Asia. Lee, Harry F. Associate Professor at the Department of Geography and Resource Management, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Li, Chao Research Scientist at Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany. Li, Jianyong Associate Professor at the State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China. Reviewers xxv Mächtle, Bertil Senior Researcher at the Institute of Geography—Geomorphology, Soil Geography and Geoarchaeology Unit, Universität Heidelberg, Germany. Micklin, Philip Emeritus Professor at the Department of Geography, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA. Mischke, Steffen Professor at the Faculty of Earth Sciences of the University of Iceland in Reykjavík. Napolskikh, Vladimir V. (Напольских Владимир Владимирович), Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Professor of the Chair for Culturology, Udmurt State University, Izhevsk, Russia. Neelis, Jason Associate Professor of Religion and Culture at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada. He studies South Asian religions in historical, economic and material contexts. Novenko, Elena Y. Senior Research Scientist at the Laboratory of Evolutionary Geography, Institute of Geography at the Russia Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia. Omidvar, Babak Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Engineering, Graduate Faculty of Environment, University of Tehran, Iran. Panin, Andrei Professor at Geography Faculty, Lomonosov Moscow State University, and laboratory head at Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences. Panyushkina, Irina Physical Geographer, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research University of Arizona, USA. Paul, Jürgen Emeritus Professor at the Oriental Institute, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany. He is specialized in Arabic and Islamic studies. Peacock, Andrew Professor at the School of History, University of St Andrews, UK. He researches and teaches medieval and early modern Middle Eastern and Islamic history. Pow, Stephen Doctoral Candidate at the Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary. Main research topic is the causes for the Mongol withdrawal from Europe in 1242. Remini, Boualem Professor at the Department of Water Sciences, Blida University, Algeria. Rouse, Lynne M. Postdoctoral Researcher at the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Eurasien-Abteilung, Berlin, Germany; Research Associate at Washington University in St. Louis, Department of Anthropology, USA. Rudenko, Olga Associate Professor at Ivan Turgenev Oryol State University, Oryol, Russian Federation. xxvi Reviewers Spate, Michael Doctoral Candidate at the Department of Archaeology, University of Sydney, Australia. Spengler III, Robert N. Laboratory Director in the Archaeology Department, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany. Stashenkov, Dmitri Scientiﬁc Secretary at the Samara Regional Museum of History and Local History. P.V. Alabin, Russia. Stevens, Chris ERC Research Associate at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, UK. He focuses on environmental archaeology and archaeob- otanical analysis, sampling and processing. Thomas, David C. Honorary Research Associate, Department of Archaeology and History, La Trobe University, Australia. Tian, Fang Postdoc Researcher at the Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam, Germany. She works on Quaternary pollen analysis, quantitative environmental reconstruction using transfer functions. Tülüveli, Güçlü Assoc. Prof. Dr. at Department of History, Middle East Technical University, Turkey. Wernicke, Jakob Researcher at the Research and Competence Center of the State Forest Service Thuringia, Germany. Xiao, Dingmu Researcher at Heavy Rain and Drought-Flood Disasters in Plateau and Basin Key Laboratory of Sichuan Province, Chengdu, China. Yang, Liang Emlyn Postdoctoral Researcher at the Graduate School “Human Development in Landscapes”, Kiel University, Germany. Zhou, Qiong Professor at the Institute for Environmental History of South-west China, Yunnan University, focusing especially on environmental and famine dis- asters in the past. Part I Introduction Chapter 1 On the Paleo-climatic/Environmental Impacts and Socio-Cultural System Resilience along the Historical Silk Road Liang Emlyn Yang, Hans-Rudolf Bork, Xiuqi Fang, Steffen Mischke, Mara Weinelt and Josef Wiesehöfer Abstract This chapter introduces, by literature reviews, the issue of the links and processes behind climate change, environmental change, and socio-culture change in the past at the ancient Silk Road region. Analyses of the changes of the socio- environment system in this area enhance our understanding on the regular patterns of coupled natural and social evolution, and is thus of important theoretical and prac- tical significance. We argue that the cross-cutting theme has been to reach beyond simple explanations of environmental or human determinism, but social resilience under environmental impacts. Studies indicate both that climate conditions signif- icantly influence human socio-cultural systems and that the socio-culture systems are certainly resilient to climate impacts. This chapter also summarizes the scope of all chapters in this book by illustrating the specific topics, research areas, focused periods and their inner relationships. The conclusion further summarizes the recent research states on past socio-environmental dynamics and the findings achieved in this book, as well as some outlooks. Keywords Paleo-climate change · Environmental stresses · Natural hazards Social resilience · Socio-culture system · The Silk Road L. E. Yang (B) · M. Weinelt Graduate School “Human Development in Landscape”, Christian-Albrecht-Universität Kiel, Kiel, Germany e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org L. E. Yang · M. Weinelt Institute of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology, Christian-Albrecht-Universität Kiel, Kiel, Germany H.-R. Bork Institut für Ökosystemforschung, Christian-Albrecht-Universität Kiel, Kiel, Germany X. Fang Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China S. Mischke Faculty of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland, Reykjavík, Iceland J. Wiesehöfer Institute of Classical Antiquities, Christian-Albrecht-Universität Kiel, Kiel, Germany © The Author(s) 2019 3 L. E. Yang et al. (eds.), Socio-Environmental Dynamics along the Historical Silk Road, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-00728-7_1 4 L. E. Yang et al. 1.1 Introduction The Silk Road is a modern concept for an ancient network of trade routes that for centuries facilitated and intensified processes of cultural interaction and goods exchange between West China, Central Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean (Elisseeff 2000). The term derives its name from the lucrative trade in Chinese silk carried out along its length. The Silk Road flourished when the Han Dynasty explored Central Asia around 139 BC and thrived throughout Antiquity and far into Middle Ages under the Islamic and Mongol Empires. However, the Silk Road network also often covers other earlier or regional routes, e.g. the Persian Royal Road established during the Achaemenid Empire (550–330 BCE) as well as the maritime connections between China and the West (Frankopan 2015) that are not involved in this chapter and the book.1 Though silk was certainly the major commodity, many other goods were traded, and religions, syncretic philosophies, and various technologies, as well as cultural influences, also spread along these networks. Trade and contacts on the Silk Road played a significant role in shaping the societies and cultures of ancient China, as well as those of the Mongols, Iranians, Arabs, Mesopotamians, Syro-Anatolians, Greeks and Romans, opening long-distance political and economic relations between various peoples and cultures (Bentley 1993; Frankopan 2015). Along the ancient Silk Road, empires, dynasties and the associated institutions, social structures, and economic systems changed for several reasons. There is increas- ing discussion that climate and environmental factors might have also played a sig- nificant role in fostering economic and socio-cultural changes along the Silk Road as well as in a broader area (Zhang et al. 2011; Clarke et al. 2016). For instance, favor- able environmental conditions may have boosted agriculture and animal husbandry, thus increasing the availability of resources necessary to support a powerful empire, while adverse conditions may have undermined the level of production and the liv- ing conditions of human society or exacerbated social stresses which eventually may have led to severe crises or collapse of socio-culture systems (Yang et al. 2017). In fact, coherent patterns and synchronous events in history suggest certain links between the social upheaval and climate forcing (Issar and Zohar 2004; Clarke et al. 2016), and environmental factors have been claimed as multipliers that accelerated socio-culture changes in some cases (Zhang et al. 2005; Rosen 2007). However, it is also argued that many analyses over-emphasized the determin- istic mechanisms (Gemenne et al. 2014). Research on climate change and social consequences primarily focuses on a few accessible regions, biasedly states the links between both phenomena and cannot explain the absence of social crisis in the face of climate risks (Adams et al. 2018). Indeed, archive-based studies of socio-economic responses to climate variability in colonial Mexico illustrate that vulnerability to change can lead to improved understanding of risks and increased adaptive capacity (Endfield 2012). At the same time, the possibility that social transitions themselves may have been responses/resilience strategies to abrupt climate events has also been 1 The term Silk Road in this chapter thereafter and in the whole book indicates the overland Silk Roads as illustrated in Fig. 1.1, if not otherwise stated. 1 On the Paleo-climatic/Environmental Impacts … 5 under exploration (Clarke et al. 2016). Studies also provided evidence that diverse ethnics, religions, industries, business activities and physical environments supported the resilience of a port city development through long history along the North Coast of Java in Southeast Asia (Ariestadi et al. 2017). Increasingly in recent literature, studies on civilization resilience (Dunning et al. 2012), mountain resilience (Tinner and Ammann 2005), coastal resilience (Adger et al. 2005), urban resilience (Ernst- son et al. 2010), community resilience (Gunderson 2010; Wilson 2014), etc., also indicated certain resilience capacities of human societies with various perspectives from the past to present, and at the same time, emphasized the significance of under- standing resilience in a historical and holistic way. Societal responses to external forces are nonlinear in nature (Leroy 2006), mean- ing that in the archaeological and historical records, any hypothesized direct linkages between cultural transition and environmental forcing must be treated with caution. Purely environmental explanations of societal collapse, including climatic explana- tions, remain less than convincing and are still controversially discussed to make a general conclusion (Endfield 2012). Different societies might pursue different adap- tation strategies when faced with similar changes in climate, depending on existing environmental and cultural factors. Resilience and adaptation frameworks therefore help us move away from deterministic models of human-environment interaction and beyond existing causal models of climate-induced collapse (Brooks 2012). Bearing this in mind, links between climatic, environmental, economic, societal and cultural changes manifested themselves differently in different places and times and often remain unclear. This chapter reviews, compiles and analyses published literature, environmental proxies alongside archaeological records, and strives to illustrate the state-of-the- art in the field of socio-environmental interactions along the historical Silk Road areas. The introduction also briefly discusses the scope of other chapters in this book by illustrating the specific topics, research areas, focused time periods and their inner relationships to each other. We aim to highlight the complexity of the relationships between climatic and socio-cultural changes, and therefore encourage further investigations, for instance, of the concept of climate resilience that links both the climate impact and social response into one framework. 1.2 Paleo-climatic/Environmental Changes and Impacts along the Historical Silk Road 1.2.1 The Physical Geography and Environmental Conditions The overland Silk Road is often recognized as a combination of the Desert Silk Road, Steppe Silk Road and the Southern Silk Road (the Tea-Horse Road) and covers a broad region of the Eurasian hinterland (Fig. 1.1). The most significant environmental characteristics of the region are dry sand deserts and Gobi (gravel desert), with 6 L. E. Yang et al. Fig. 1.1 Map of the historical overland Silk Road areas with rough representation of the road networks and node towns. Every number (chapter number in the book content) in the map indicates the main geographical location of the studies of a certain chapter in this book high mountains including the Pamir, Tian-Shan, Karakoram and Hindukush. Another landscape characteristic of the region are the snow-fed rivers and oases that served as major places for human activities. Geographically, the eastern areas of the Tian-Shan Mountains, mainly in the con- temporary China, are complex with various local landscapes, including mountains, basins, deserts, Gobi, grasslands and oases (Yao et al. 2013). The Kunlun Mountains and Qilian Mountains at the northern margin of the Tibetan Plateau supported the predominant possibility for human exchanges along the foot hills in the east-west direction. There are only two possible pathways to go across the Tian-Shan Moun- tains, one is the southern foot hill line that passes over the Pamir at its western end, and another is the northern foot hill line that is a much longer alternative. The west- ern side of the Tian-Shan Mountains represents typical grasslands in its north and deserts in the south (Hu et al. 2014). The grasslands compose a part of the Eurasia Steppe together with the Eastern European grasslands, while the deserts connect to the Iranian dry plateaus in the southwest. The Tarim River, Amu Darya, Syr Darya, and several lakes like the Lop Nur, Bosten, Balkhash and the Aral Sea form the main inland water bodies of the vast expanse of the drylands. Many oases fed by snow melting from the surrounding mountains are the major human settlement areas and provide stations for travelers. Due to the impacts of global climate warming and increasing human demands, most of the water bodies were shrinking significantly (Sorg et al. 2012). The Desert Silk Road linked with the existing road networks in the Persian Plateau and further west-toward the Mesopotamia Basin and Anatolia (Frankopan 2015). The Persian Plateau and Anatolia are both surrounded by high arid mountains with sharp valleys. The central part of the Persian Plateau is a vast inland basin with dry salt marshes and deserts. The fertile Mesopotamia plain is surrounded by deserts, mountains and the Persian Gulf, where the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers flow almost in parallel from northwest to southeast and feed the alluvial plain (Fisher 2013). 1 On the Paleo-climatic/Environmental Impacts … 7 The Steppe Silk Road was formed at the north of the Aral Sea, Caspian Sea and the Black Sea, linking mainly local nomad people. The steppe belt covers wide temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands, where the relatively few and mobile nomad people did not develop large human settlements in the ancient times, and thus the trading roads were erratic (Christian 2000). The Southern Silk Road or “Tea-Horse Road” is an ancient Chinese commercial road network comparable to the traditionally known Silk Road (Forbe and Henley 2011). It is located in the Hengduan Mountains and the Tibetan Plateau and includes the Yangtze River (Jinsha River), Minjiang River, Nujiang River, Lancang River (Mekong River) and the Yarlung Zangbo River. The road networks originated from the Sichuan Basin of the ancient Chinese Empire and the major tea producing areas in Yunnan, and extended to Lhasa in the Tibetan Plateau and south to India across the Himalaya. Generally, the natural environment at the historical Silk Road areas is very difficult for human living and traveling. The environmental conditions can be felt today and somehow also be imagined from ancient poems “yellow sands and dry grasses linking the land and sky”2 and traveling records “no flying birds, no walking animals, no living grasses”.3 1.2.2 Paleo-climatic/Environmental Changes and Social Impacts Over the ~12 millennia period of the Holocene, the climate in arid Asia has fluc- tuated. It has experienced the early Holocene warming period (11700–8500 years BP (Before Present)), the mid-Holocene warm period (8500–3000 years BP), and the late Holocene cooling and drought period (from 3000 years BP to present). Chen et al. (2008) confirmed that during the early Holocene most of the lakes in the region experienced very low water levels or even dried out before ca 8000 years BP. The study based on loess grain-size changes of loess sediments in the Ili Basin by Li et al. (2011a) also recorded the warm and dry period of 11000–8000 years BP. Small climate fluctuations in each large period are still relatively consistent. Sev- eral cold climate periods around 8200, 5000, 4200, 3100 and 600 years BP occurred in almost every sub-region (Mayewski et al. 2004), which generally showed sig- nificant continental and arid climatic characteristics in Central and West Asia. As a result of paleo-environmental syntheses based on several types of proxy data, it is accepted that the mid-Holocene drought reached its peak between 3800 and 3500 years BP (Arikan 2015). However, some humid periods occured in middle to late Holocene as evidenced by loess records in Xinjiang (Chen et al. 2016) and Iran (Chen et al. 2017), which had a profound impact on the development of human civilization in the inland dry areas in Asia. 2 Cen Shen, Remember Duling at Jiuquan. . 3 The biography of Master Sanzang. Tang Dynasty. . 8 L. E. Yang et al. Overall, the traditional Silk Road area has a distinctive semi-arid climate with hot, cloudless, dry summers and moist, relatively warm winters in the south and cold winters with severe frosts in the north. Precipitation throughout most of the region has a spring maximum (Lioubimtseva and Henebry 2009). Records of stalagmites from Kesang Cave demonstrate that precipitation history in the region exhibits a processional rhythm over most of the past 500,000 years (Cheng et al. 2012). Based on the early-to-mid-Holocene reconstructions, the arid zones of Central Asia may become moister as a result of global warming, due to an expected southward shift and probable intensification of the westerly cyclones (Lioubimtseva and Henebry 2009). However, due to the very high uncertainty in such studies, it is important to further understand the mechanisms of precipitation changes and climate in general. Oasis systems play a dominant role in supporting human activities in the arid Asia, but they are fragile to large-scale climate change and also human influences. For instance, the eco-environment of the oasis systems in the southern part of the Tarim Basin has taken great changes during the recent 2000 years, which are characterized by the evolution and desertification of oasis and led to many famous ancient cities having been abandoned (Zu et al. 2003; Liu et al. 2016). However, research based on analyses of lake sediments from Lop Nur in the eastern Tarim Basin also shows that the Loulan Kingdom decline resulted from a man-made environmental disaster rather than from changing climate, because lakes in adjacent regions recorded rising levels and relatively wet conditions during the same period (Mischke et al. 2017). Analyses on the distribution and evolution of oases show that environmental changes are partly due to the aridization of climate before the 20th century but mainly attributed to the human activities in the 20th century. The environments in the Silk Road areas are complex and diverse, and the climate is sensitive and variable. The development of regional cultures was deeply influenced by the natural environment and its evolution (McMichael 2012). Tree ring-based reconstructions of European summer precipitation and temperature variability over the past 2500 years revealed human susceptibility to climate variability (Buntgen et al. 2011). The direct manifestation of climate impacts may be in terms of its resource utilization and economic shape of human society, while the extensive influences can contribute to the development, migration, spreading and the rise and fall of cultures. Abrupt climate change events, such as the widespread droughts around 8200, 5200 and 4200 years BP, are suggested to be the result of altered subtropical upper-level flow over the eastern Mediterranean and Asia (Staubwasser and Weiss 2006). In monsoonal Asia, drastic swings in moisture availability, notably megadroughts associated with monsoon failure, interacted with socio-political and technical insti- tutions to spur the disintegration of the 14th century Khmer Kingdom at Angkor (Hessl et al. 2017). The late 16th and early 17th century experienced a period of drought and the collapse of the Ming Dynasty in China, while most of the regions across Southeast Asia saw great unrest and rapid realignment during one of the most extended periods of drought (Buckley et al. 2014). New paleo-proxy records and the incorporation of historical documentation are expected to further improve the understanding of these disruptions in regional societies. 1 On the Paleo-climatic/Environmental Impacts … 9 Looking at the natural environment and cultural development of late Holocene period in the Silk Road areas, we could see the following salient features: • First, when the climate developed toward dry-cold or warm-humid, the vegetation belt in Eurasia moved southward or northward accordingly (Li et al. 2011b; Zhao et al. 2017; Dallmeyer et al. 2017). In most cases, the climate shifts drove people of different economic modes move to the south or north as well. As a result, a boundary line between agriculture (oasis regions) and pastoralism groups (steppe areas) was formed. In China, the line was stretched to a belt region approximately equivalent to the position of the Great Wall (Shi et al. 2017). • Second, the north-south movement of human groups is often accompanied by wars and conflicts, especially between the agricultural and non-agricultural groups (Cosmo 2002; Zhang et al. 2007). As a result, cultures and blood was often exchanged between both regions. • Third, the social development model associated with local environment was also formed over long periods of time, for example, the oasis agriculture mode and the steppe pastoralism mode (Porter 2012). These modes were formed and developed relatively slowly but were compatible with the harsh natural environment. • Fourth, in several extreme climatic periods of the last 5000 years, the different socio-economic modes and their coping strategies have brought about distinctly different results in terms of society, economy and culture that some successfully transformed and some collapsed (Fang and Zhang 2017). In general, the development level of culture and productivity in arid Asia was limited during most of the Holocene period. However, human societies were always learning to adapt to environmental changes and influences. Similar to results of Tol and Wagner (2010) for Europe, the relationship between social conflicts and climate varies weakens in the industrialized era, and is not robust to the details of climate conditions in many contemporary societies. It often seems that human beings were passively adapting to nature, but essentially it might also be a process of continuous learning and active response. 1.3 Socio-Cultural Dynamics and Resilience in a Historical Perspective 1.3.1 Socio-Cultural Features and Exchanges along the Silk Road Areas Cold mountains, dry deserts and seasonal grasslands composed the complex and diverse landforms of most areas along the historical Silk Road, which are tough conditions for human activities in ancient times. However, our ancestors were not isolated by the unfavorable geographical conditions. There are often rivers flowing down from the snow-capped mountains on the edge of the deserts, which irrigated 10 L. E. Yang et al. oases and served as cradles of local socio-cultural development and exchange places of different civilizations. The Silk Road connected these places and people and major civilizations in the Eurasian continent, including the Confucian in Eastern Asian, Buddhism-Hinduism in Southern Asian, Islam civilization in Western Asian, and the Greek-Roman civilization in Europe (Beckwith 2009). Its strategic and historic position around the East-West axis and the major trading routes guaranteed a steady influx of ideas and conflicting notions of tribalism and traditionalism, and stimulated a variety of cultures such as the Buddhism, Mongols, Persians, Tatars, Russians and Sarmatians (Liu 2010). From the 2nd century BC to the 2nd century AD, four empires juxtaposed along the historical Silk Road from west to east. That is, the Roman Empire in Europe (30 BC–284 AD), the Parthian Empire in West Asia (247 BC–224 AD), the Kushan Empire in Central Asia (30–375 AD), and the Han Dynasty of East Asia (206 BC–220 AD). The four empires were in a period of prosperous states around the 1st year AD and were actively expanding outward. Their pioneering efforts directly connected the East and West worlds and enhanced the mutual exchanges and influences between the four ancient civilizations of China, India, Persia and Greece (Beckwith 2009). Since then, the development of any civilization has not been carried out in isolation. The ancient Silk Road contributed greatly to the cultural exchange between China and the West. From the 2nd century BC to the 15th century AD, splendid cultures among China, India, Greece, Persia and Rome were exchanged along this famous trade route, making the route a great “Cultural Bridge” between Asia and Europe (Foltz 2010). Religion is of great importance in most places, but this is especially true in the Silk Road areas where the culture cannot be separated from religious beliefs and practices. In the 1st century AD, Manicheism and Christianity penetrated from the Near East to Central Asia and further to China. Islamic doctrine might have been brought by warriors of Arabian caliphates in the 7th century but its distribution along the Silk Road was carried out peacefully. At the same time, the Silk Road was also the route for Buddhist monks who went from India to Central Asia and China (e.g. the most known monks Zhu Shixing, Fa Xian, and Xuan Zang) (Liu 2010), as well as the route for Christian doctrine dissemination. The most significant religion in the Silk Road areas, by far, is Islam that dominants in the southern and western parts, while the northern steppe areas are more related to the Russian Orthodox Church (Foltz 2010). The Southern Silk Road regions had a significantly different culture reflecting a mixture of Chinese Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism and many local religions. Central Asia was once the center of multiple nomadic empires and tribes, including the Scythians, Mongols and Turks. The invasions and migrations of nomads were an important force in history that greatly affected all parts of Eurasia and also influenced the traditions and cultures of many Silk Road sub-regions to the present day. A big shock occurred from the 2nd century BC when the Xiongnu nomadic tribes raised and moved from the east to west in the steppe (Wu 1983). This movement led to a series of nomadic intrusions into the farming empires such as the Chinese Qin-Han Dynasties, the Indian Kushan Empire and the Western Roman Empire. In the 13th century, another big wave of the impact of the nomadic world on the farming world broke out, when the Mongols and Turkic people attacked the whole region along the 1 On the Paleo-climatic/Environmental Impacts … 11 Silk Road from East Asia to Central Europe (Wu 1983). The interaction between farming civilization and nomadic civilization was an important way to promote the development of civilization in Eurasia. So dynamic were the steppes that vast empires could rise and fall within a generation (Invictus 2006). In the modern era, with the ultimate decline of nomadic cavalry and the rise of maritime trades, the nomadic Eurasia gradually lost its military superiority to the surrounding farming civilizations. The Silk Road was not only the source of goods but also information on their making, i.e. technologies, in particular, the breeding of silkworms, silk spinning, paper making, printing with movable types, the making of gunpowder, porcelains and lacquers, and the invention and use of the compass. Material culture exchange was also underway on this long trade road (Liu 2010). A large number of products of the West flowed into China, such as grapes, walnuts, carrots, peppers, spinach, cucumbers, pomegranates, medicinal materials, flavorings and jewelry. Also, along with spreading goods, cultural developments in the applied art, architecture, wall painting, music and dances enriched the intercultural exchange along the Silk Road (Elisseeff 2000). The cultural exchange between China and the West offered mutual benefits and achieved common progress, which greatly sped up the development of the Eurasia world. 1.3.2 Resilience of the Socio-Cultural Systems Climatic change has certainly influenced socio-culture characters in the long (pre-)history of the Eurasian continent, while it can also be a factor of technological innovations in order to compensate difficulties and to maintain a certain threshold of vital yields for the whole population, such as moving to new ecological areas and adapting new irrigation or planting techniques (Clarke et al. 2016; Flohr et al. 2016). Actually, the diversity of cultures, livelihoods, and political formations indi- cated that relationships between climate, ecosystems, and societies are non-linear, complex, and variable over time (Endfield 2012). Examples of human-environment interactions in the monsoonal and arid Central Asia suggested that societies have adjusted to climate variability in diverse and (mal)adaptive ways over the last three millennia (Hessl et al. 2017). It has recently been emphasized that the concept of social resilience can be usefully deployed in some historical contexts (Haldon and Rosen 2018). Among the five patterns of the impacts of climate change on civilization summarized by Fang and Zhang (2017), only one is socio-cultural collapse while the other four are different types of resilient continuous cultures and transformations of socio-cultural systems. It is a normal phenomenon in the Silk Road areas that a group of people (e.g. nomadic tribes) migrate to another area after consuming the resources of one area. This kind of migration is not a manifestation of social system collapses. On the contrary, it is the performance of the social system with resilience and adaptability. History and archaeology have a well-established engagement with issues of pre- modern societal development and the interaction between physical and cultural envi- 12 L. E. Yang et al. ronments; together, they offer a holistic view that can generate insights into the nature of cultural resilience and adaptation (Haldon et al. 2018). The so-called 9.2 and 8.2 ka events were among the most pronounced and abrupt Holocene cold and arid events in the Northern Hemisphere and especially in Southwest Asia. However, a thorough study did not show evidence for a simultaneous and widespread social collapse, large-scale site abandonment, or migration at the time of the events, instead, there are indications for local adaptation (Flohr et al. 2016). This result could lead to the conclusion that early farming communities were somehow resilient to the abrupt, severe climate changes. Modeling tools have the advantage to represent the process of human responses under climatic and environmental stresses. An agent-based model indicated that highly interconnected social systems without mobility are less effective in adaptition to climate impacts, while they jointly as a larger social unit can be more resilient than the individuals (Rogers et al. 2012). The case analysis at Gordion in central Turkey implicated temporal and spatial mismatches as a cause for local environmental degradation, and increasing extra economic pressures as an ultimate cause for the adoption of unsustainable land-use practices (Marston 2015). Integrated analyses of palaeoclimate proxies and model simulations also reveals the limited extent in which climate trends determine patterns of socio-economic activities in complex historical societies (Xoplaki et al. 2018). These analyses suggest that a research approach which integrates environmental archaeology with a resilience perspective has considerable potential for explicating regional patterns of agricultural change and environmental degradation in the past. Still, it is often unclear which characters a social system must have to be resilient. Peregrine (2017) examined 33 archaeologically known societies bracketing 22 catas- trophic climate-related disasters and concluded that societies allowing greater polit- ical participation appear to provide greater resilience to catastrophic climate-related disasters, which generally supports the predominant perspective in recent disaster response studies. Another opinion is that human societies gained increasing abili- ties and productivities to not only adapt but also “reform” the natural environment since the traditional farming technologies emerged from the 3rd–4th century BC in China (The Warring States Period) (Han 2008). In other words, this also means that human impacts on the natural environment have significantly increased. For instance, many oasis grasslands were changed into farmlands when the Han Dynasty attached Xiongnu and opened the Desert Silk Road, which brought irreversible damages to the natural desert-oasis environment. Apparently, discussions of significant climate impacts on social systems so far have focused on ancient agricultural and pastoral societies because these societies are more sensitive to climatic and environmental conditions. On the contrast, very few studies discussed climate-society relationships after the Industrial Revolution or in industrialized countries. A broad consensus is that technology and economic development can increase the resilience and resistance of human social systems and mitigate the negative impacts of climate change (Adger et al. 2009). As the corre- lation between climate and society is weakening and even negative, it appears that global warming would not lead to an increase in social conflicts in warmer climates 1 On the Paleo-climatic/Environmental Impacts … 13 (Tol and Wagner 2010). It can be assumed that as long as the climate conditions do not undergo large-scale dramatic changes, the socio-cultural systems would unlikely be completely destroyed at one time. Social and cultural characteristics (e.g. stabil- ity of core territory and the main ethnic groups) can thus still achieve cumulative development. However, in comparison with the topic of climate impacts on society, societal responses to climate changes have far less been explored. This is right the direction that this chapter and the book are dedicated to. 1.4 Book Overview and Key Messages 1.4.1 Coverage of the Book Independent studies on the natural environment and social development of the Silk Road region began in the early 20th century. So far, the academic community has basically defined the routes network and the areas along the Silk Road, and built up a general understanding of the natural environment and social conditions. There are also a number of studies investigating local specific human-environment relations. Despite this state of research, there is still a lack of comprehensive research focusing on the social and environmental development of the entire Silk Road area in its long past. Therefore, the core purpose of this book is to discuss the socio-cultural changes that took place in the Silk Road area where climate/environmental proxies indicate rapid and/or high amplitude changes and impacts. The book has 22 chapters. Versions of most of the chapters were initially prepared for the international workshop entitled “The Rise and Fall: Environmental Factors in the Socio-Cultural Changes of the Ancient Silk Road Area”, which was convened at the Kiel University during September 27–28, 2017. Each chapter has a specific topic focusing on a specific geographical region, and as a whole the book covers most of the overland Silk Road areas (Fig. 1.1). The chapters are divided into six parts based on the related topics. An overview of each part and associated key messages are provided below. 1.4.2 Key Messages from the Book The first part of the book is this introduction paper (Chap. 1; Yang et al. 2019). It first reviewed the state-of-the-art on socio-environmental dynamics in the historical Silk Road areas and then introduced the scope of all chapters in this book by illustrating the specific topics, research areas, focused time periods and their inner relationships to each other. The introduction further summarizes the findings achieved in this book, as well as some outlooks. The chapter also discusses some key concepts and 14 L. E. Yang et al. definitions that are deemed useful for examining resilience and vulnerability from an archaeological perspective. The second part includes five studies on landscape evolutions in the human- environment system (Chaps. 2–6). The concept of landscape has for quite a long time been important to geo-scientists and environmental scientists in understand- ing human-environment systems, which is well reflected in the chapters about dry- ing lakes in western China (Fei et al. 2019; Mischke et al. 2019). In Central Asia, hydrogeological systems evidenced human colonization, and the impacts of water extractions on tributaries of large river and lake systems are suspected as the main causes of water level regressions in the Ili River Delta (Deom et al. 2019) and the Aral Sea (Sala 2019). The chapter of Spate (2019) synthesized past archaeological and climate data in Kashmir and concluded that differentiated landscape patterns may have resulted from long-term adjustment and reorganization as a response to climate pressures. Part III of the book consists of a series of four papers (Chaps. 7–10) that are arranged under the topic of natural disasters and impacts. The Silk Road areas overlap well with the earthquake and mountain fault belt that runs from China to Italy, and thus many local earthquake-resistant techniques were developed in sub-regions (Kázmér 2019). The study on climate-related dryness, famine and diseases in the Eastern Turkic Empire suggested that the climatic factor did have an impact on the historical processes that took place in the nomadic territories (Ganiev and Kukarskih 2019). As we stated before, dryness is the major natural threat for most of the Silk Road areas especially over the last millennium when human activities have increased dramatically (Opała-Owczarek and Owczarek 2019; Chen et al. 2019). The book includes a major part investigating climate impacts on social sys- tems (Part IV, Chaps. 11–15). Analysis of global climate simulations over the last 6000 years indicate that 10% more precipitation may have provided the climatolog- ical foundation for the golden era of Silk Road trades (Hill 2019). Even in adverse climate conditions, social adaptation activities helped to avoid hardship and expanded the capabilities for the continual development of the Chinese civilization (Fang et al. 2019). In Central Asia and Western Asia, inferences of Turkic tribes’ migration in Salj¯uqs period reach beyond climatological determinism and provide more socio- political explanations (Frenkel 2019). And, Luneau (2019) argues that the present data do not support a drastic climate change during the first half of the 4th millen- nium BP as a responsible factor for the fall of the Oxus civilization. Pow (2019) also questions the climatic and environmental effects on the Mongol Empire’s with- drawal from Hungary in 1242. A common message from these articles is that climate impacts are recognized but not considered as a dominant factor in the development of social events. The fifth part of the book includes four papers of social adaptation and resilience to environmental stresses (Part V, Chaps. 16–19). Experience of extreme climate conditions can increase opportunities for learning and innovation, e.g. local people developed hydraulic systems of water-sediment separation at the mountainous Tea- Horse Road region that effectively mitigated flood hazards (Xu et al. 2019), and the Karez system in the dry Asian regions is a great human creation that survives 1 On the Paleo-climatic/Environmental Impacts … 15 social development for thousands of years (Mächtle et al. 2019). The study from Panyushkina et al. (2019) shows that Saka people of the Iron Age employed extensive ravine agriculture on alluvial fans and that they were able to apply simple flow control structures, which certainly reduced water constrains to agricultural expansion in the Lake Balkhash Basin. The steppe landscape in the Middle Volga region was also transformed by cultivation, wood extraction, and the expansion of pastures and road networks in the past 2500 years (Vyazov et al. 2019). These examples from the past might help inform the degree to which societies can develop strategies to deal with environmental perturbations at different scales and highlight that social breakdown and collapse are not an inevitable result of transformation. The last part of the book discusses three environment-related socio-cultural issues (Part VI, Chaps. 20–22). Studying early rock carvings in the Karakoram Ranges gains insight into the roots and spread of early Buddhism in the extreme dry-cold-high envi- ronment (Aerde 2019). The chapter by Marten-Finnis (2019) reveals how ecological zones and their division into steppe and sown, nomadic and sedentary people, helped Russian ethnographers to understand the heritage and urban neighborhood princi- ples of Bukhara. In addition, Abudu et al. (2019) review the Karez systems from the perspective of the cultural heritage, and argue that Karezes should be protected as indigenous human heritage and utilized to enhance water resilience under changing environments. Overall, human societies have always been living with and adapting to a vari- able climate and environment. It is clear from studies in this book that climate has certainly influenced human societies while societies have also shown increasing resilience and capability in coping with adverse climate impacts. The Silk Road areas are richly endowed with information on human and environmental history, which makes it suitable for exploring interactions between climate, environment and humans over a variety of time scales. As historians, archaeologists, geogra- phers, paleo-environmentalists and paleo-climatologists, we often seek to contribute to a better understanding of this complex topic. This book is an important step in this direction. The concept of social resilience has gradually become an important topic in sci- entific communities (e.g. Climatology, Geography, Socio-ecology, Geoarchaeology, and Sustainability). In fact, increasingly sophisticated detection and attribution stud- ies already suggest that societies have largely persisted and developed continuously in hazard-prone areas and climate-change periods. Findings and discussions of chap- ters in this book make evident that many challenges remain which are connected to even more complex questions for forthcoming research: • Are there clear cases of social resilience to climate changes in the past societies? If so, what are the general environmental-socio-cultural patterns? • What are the key factors and features for a social system to be resilient in face of climate variation? In other words, how can resilience be maintained in key sectors, e.g. agriculture, nomadism, livelihood, population and urbanization? • How did social resilience change and evolve in response to climate changes? What are the scope, thresholds and tipping points for the dynamics of social resilience? 16 L. E. Yang et al. • What can we learn from the experience and lessons of the past resilient and/or “un-resilient” societies? Are these learnings up-scalable to explanatory theories? These are open questions that some chapters in this book addressed but which were not deeply investigated yet. In order to both forecast and adapt to future condi- tions we need to advance our understanding of interactions between cases of socio- cultural resilience to climate change in time and space, and to utilize the knowledge in supporting sustainable development at local, regional and global levels. 1.5 Summary and Outlook The development of the Silk Road has supported a great leap of long-distance, large- amount cultural exchange across the Eurasian continent, and has had a profound impact on the overall development of human society. Studies on the rise and fall of the Silk Road have shown some principles of human-climate relationships. Climate conditions can lead to the abandonment of villages or castles but that does not nec- essarily mean a collapse of the human society. People are active and social systems are able to migrate or adapt. Migration is not a manifestation of the collapse of the socio-cultural system, on the contrary, it shows the resilience of the system. Today, the Silk Road has become a road of friendship for economic and cultural exchanges between Asia, Europe, Africa and even further areas. The Silk Road was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2014. China’s recent “Belt and Route Initiative” further promotes attentions to the traditional Silk Road areas. On the one hand, the Silk Road has become a popular word through cinema, television and other popular media. On the other hand, however, the Silk Road has so far majorly been discussed in politics and business themes from the East side (e.g. China’s business attempts) while its reception in sciences are less targeted. It remains a challenge for research to overcome the chronological, regional, linguistic, and disciplinary fragmentation of Silk Road research. However, the fact that the term is a modern construct, makes it a fruitful, organizational concept for the scholarship. By constructed definition, it could also allow and promote transnational, superregional, intercultural and interdisciplinary approaches to research and comprehension. The Loulan Kingdom at Lop Nur region used to be an ancient country with animal husbandry and oasis agriculture in the center of the Silk Road areas. Sima Qian wrote in his “Historical Records” (1st century BC) that “Loulan is rich of jade, reed, poplar trees and white grass. The people often move to where there are water and grasslands”.4 However, when Xuan Zang passed by this area in the Tang Dynasty (7th century AD) he saw only “remains of towns and castles, but no people anymore”.5 This tragic change happened with both impacts from natural environment change and human activities. Research on the environmental changes, social development, 4 Sima Qian, 91 BC. Historical Records. . 5 Xuan Zang (talk), Bian Ji (write), 646 AD. Great Tang Records on the Western Regions. . 1 On the Paleo-climatic/Environmental Impacts … 17 the rise and fall process, and their interactions along the Silk Road can provide important historical experience and decision-making basis for regional sustainable development in present times, and is thus of theoretical and practical significance. A growing network of multi-millennial, multi-proxy records from multiple sub- regions would help reveal climatic contexts for more important historic events which emphasize the diversity of human-environment interactions. Future efforts in this field will need to account for the diversity of economic, political, and cultural features that filter, dampen, and amplify the effects of climate change on society. This chapter and the book hold the concept of “taking history as a mirror”, and hope to promote more studies on the evolution process of environmental-social interactions, in both the Silk Road areas and other regions. Acknowledgements This introduction chapter, as part of the book volume, emerged as a result of a workshop at Kiel University, Germany in September 2017, addressing the socio-cultural- environmental changes of the ancient Silk Road areas. The workshop and the editing of the book were jointly supported by the Graduate School Human Development in Landscapes at the Kiel University (GSC 208/2) and the Past Global Changes project (PAGES). References Abudu, S., Sheng, Z., King, J. P., & Ahn, S.-R. (2019). A Karez system’s dilemma: A cultural heritage on a shelf or still a viable technique for water resiliency in arid regions? In L. E. Yang, H.-R. Bork, X. Fang, & S. Mischke (Eds.), Socio-environmental dynamics along the historical silk road. 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